*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
July 24, 2014, 12:06:56 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 74 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: GNS and design (split from Site Discussion)  (Read 1517 times)
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« on: June 04, 2003, 07:38:38 AM »

Hi there,

Sylus wrote, in the Does GNS cloud Indie Design thread,

Quote
Where do you feel if at all GNS could help in design? Or do you feel it is used better as a tool for dissecting a completed work to see where it would best fit in?


My answer is that the whole of my model, which includes GNS modes of play as an internal layer or Venn-box, is a wonderful design tool for those who like to design from a model-based viewpoint.

However, that doesn't mean it's a necessary design tool for anyone in particular, at least not at the introductory level usually being presented in Indie Design. And as I've often said, I think plenty of game designers understand the issues at a gut level and are very protective of keeping their design aesthetics at that level ("Don't bug me with theory, man!"), which is also perfectly fine.

Design, like play, begins with a drive to create at the [Explorative + GNS] levels. What prompts that drive, and what features of a game seem necessary to get into place first, are utterly individualized per person and per game. I've built some games just because I thought a particular die looked nifty; I've built others because I was taken with a particular visual image of a character; and I've built still others based on some theoretical point I wanted to exemplify or try out.

I do not think, under any circumstances, that "starting with GNS" should be interpreted as a necessary or "Ron says" principle for game design. My point is that GNS coherence must be a primary feature of a game that's fun to play, and that attention to this issue must be paid (with or without the terminology), not left to "well whatever" or attempts to satisfy everyone in the same game.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Sylus Thane
Guest
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2003, 07:47:01 AM »

So would it be safe to say that all games and designs have all of GNS within them while simultaneously not having any of them at all?

Sylus
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2003, 07:56:40 AM »

You've said that before, Sylus. It makes no sense. Perhaps you can rephrase your point in some way?

Best,
Ron
Logged
ethan_greer
Member

Posts: 869


WWW
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2003, 08:12:05 AM »

Well, I've designed games with and without the help of GNS.  Here's what I think:

I play guitar.  (I don't think that, I really do play.  Bear with me...)  So, sometimes I'll sit down and play some songs I know, other times I'll sit down and do some finger exersizes.  When I create a new piece of music (which happens every so often), it usually happens one of two ways:

1. I'll be messing around with chords while playing songs I know, and I'll play something that seems cool, so I'll fiddle with it and maybe work it into a new chord progression.

2. I'll think of something I want to accomplish musically, or a technique I want to use maybe based on a finger exercise, and then go for it until I have something that fits the bill.

Method 1 above could be compared to "just making a game," theory be damned.  You're role-playing, or reading an existing RPG text (by yourself of someone else), and then you get an idea and go with it.

Method 2 is how it goes when I'm doing theory-based design.  I know my goals, and I fiddle about with writing the game to meet those goals.

Both methods are equally valid for game design.  Will one method yield better games all the time?  Nope.
Logged
Sylus Thane
Guest
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2003, 08:29:56 AM »

Quote
You've said that before, Sylus. It makes no sense. Perhaps you can rephrase your point in some way?

Best,
Ron


I'll try but its not the simplest of things.

Have you ever looked at something and had known it fit into a certain category but yet there was something about, no matter how minor, that set it apart from everything else occasionally giving doubt as to whether it belonged where you categorized it the first time?

Now if you apply this to GNS and a Game you can look at any part of a game and see all the forms of GNS, it just depends on your mood and prefrences. You can point at a game and say "Hey, this one is a pretty good gamist game" then a couple people will come along and agree with you but then all of a sudden a person pops up saying "I don't see it". It may not be because they don't understand GNS or their a moron, but instead it is their prefrences that color their view and judgement.

An good example would be Tiki God, although Chris and Mike both agreed it was gamist when I looked at it I didn't see it other than maybe the attempt to be The Man above all others to save the island. Instead I saw something strange and cool that couldn't really be gamist, or anything else for that matter other than what it is because it contains something new and strange and wonderful within it. A game that promotes couch surfing and boozing it up with your friends. How could such a game be considered gamist, but it is. You could take the same game and say its simulationist in how it portrays life on the island, yet its not, its something unique on its own. You could say it's narraitivist depending on how into the gm gets describing the anger of the gods or the players slick one liners as they prove how much more the top dude they are. But its not, it's something unique.

Overall you can find all of the parts of GNS residing within a game  yet you will not as there ismost usually something unique about it that sets it apart from all others that will make you wonder if you classified it correctly or someone else will come along and simply not see it.  

I think you say it yourself here when you say:
Quote
However, that doesn't mean it's a necessary design tool for anyone in particular, at least not at the introductory level usually being presented in Indie Design. And as I've often said, I think plenty of game designers understand the issues at a gut level and are very protective of keeping their design aesthetics at that level ("Don't bug me with theory, man!"), which is also perfectly fine.


I think on a gut level you see it too. In so much that you can see GNS existing at some level within any game yet when a person says not to bug you with theory, you can see that perhaps maybe it doesn't exist. At least not at the moment.

Perhaps part of it is that it is a theory and that they exist or dont depending on the reader. I would say at least in my vision of it that G, N, and S all exist within every game but yet at the same time they do not as the reader may find something that does not fit within any of them recategorizing the whole thing.

My last example would be that within my game group we have a G, and N, and S, type gamer somehow they find that bit of it no matter what game we play, but once we start playing it begins to dissolve and all we are left with is Game that isn't G, N, or S at all.

I hope this clarifies alittle what I'm trying to get across.
Sylus
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2003, 08:40:25 AM »

Hi Sylus,

I see what you're saying now ... and I wholly disagree with it. When a person says "Don't bug me with theory," they are expressing a statement about how they want to process/use their own creatitvity. It's like someone saying "Don't bug me with physics talk" regarding their car - regardless of their mental engagement with physics, the car functions according to the physical interactions.

Similarly, I do not agree at all with your notion that GNS is in the eye of the beholder. GNS resides in the process of play, specifically, among the interactions and vectors of communicatino among the people. It is not ineffable or vague.

The issue you're discussing is the degree to which some feature of game design, in that game, contributes to the realization of such play when using that game. That's certainly subject to debate and to comparative discussion. It's not evidence of any kind to support some "now you see it, now you don't" understanding of GNS in the first place.

Best,
Ron
Logged
M. J. Young
Member

Posts: 2198


WWW
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2003, 08:30:19 PM »

Two interesting questions here, I think. The simpler one may be the one about whether GNS "is and isn't" in the games.

First priority to understand is that GNS is not in games as written, really. It's in how they're played. Games as written may encourage particular kinds of play or discourage them.

We could play Risk, and I could say, "I want to hold the United States, because it's the bread basket of the world, and everyone will have to trade with me to feed their people; and I want to hold the middle east so I have all the oil I need." Problem is, I'll lose the game--because those aren't factors the game explores. If I want to win Risk, I have to start with taking a small but defensible continent (Australia and South America are good) and building up sufficient force to move out and conquer something bigger, so that I can build my power base--or use a similar strategy of some sort that takes advantage of what the game supports.

Similarly, if I'm playing D&D, I can role play sitting in the bar telling stories and drinking, take a part-time job as a blacksmith's assistant, and brag about adventures I never had; but when the giants come to attack the town and the townspeople (who have all believed me) push me forward to defend them, I'm going to get crushed, because in D&D at least you don't become a powerful character without going out and doing the adventure things. Arguably, even if I'm a low-level cavalier who practices several hours every day, that practice means nothing if I don't go out and kill monsters/get treasure. The game supports a particular kind of play. You can play anything you want with it--there are some very narrativist players out there making due with a D&D engine--but you can't play it as well, because it doesn't support that approach to play.

Most games are perhaps sufficiently confused that they have elements that support all three; most gamers have learned to ignore elements that support styles of play other than there own. This is the argument that incoherence sells (although I just saw an RPGnet review of Sorcerer that declared it the best game the reviewer ever bought, so maybe that argument is going to fade). I can see gamist, narrativist, and simulationist elements in D&D. The question is, which ones dominate decision making during play? The answer, for most groups, is gamism.

So I think you're confusing the presence of conflicting elements with the presence of all modes of GNS in a game. The question is first, what do people prioritize when they play, and second, how does the text of this game as written encourage them to do that?

The big question, though, was how to use GNS to design games.

This keeps appearing. I think it was Justin who raised it just within the last week or two. I know that it's been rattling around in my head as to whether I want to try to write a miniseries of articles about game design and GNS. I hesitate because I'm less well versed in what's been done than many on these forums (I can't as easily cite examples from recent games, because I don't have time to read very many of them); but for other reasons as well. It's problematic in many ways. For one thing, a game that is GNS coherent is so because all the elements work together. We had a thread recently in which someone tried to design a character generation system which would allow multiple players each to prioritize different GNS concerns at chargen; I could see then that chargen alone won't get you that, because resolution mechanics, rewards systems, advancement, and several other areas of game design would all impact how play was expressed. (Thus the idea of a miniseries--an effort to look at how each could be addressed or enhanced through each aspect of game design.) I think that there are design concepts which tend to be enabling to one approach or another, and perhaps equally some which tend to be disabling, but I'm not confused there are any blanket statements that can be made.

To date, the best use of GNS in design seems to have been in the playtesting phase, seeing how players used the system when they were cut loose. I have suggested (and attempted to some degree to apply in my own work) that you can use GNS in design by asking questions about the system. The best questions are what does this reward and what does this facilitate; somewhere I've got a post on the two prongs of rewards systems (it's also an article in the Game Ideas Unlimited series entitled Rewards, but you have to be a Gaming Outpost member to read it; my thoughts were summarized in a recent issue of RoleplayingTips as well). The point there was that you have to give whatever the reward is when players do what you want, but you also have to make the reward something which enables them to do more of what you want. The same could be said of character generation, resolution mechanics, advancement, whatever there is in a game system--it has to reward the players for choosing within the intended design by giving them more ability to work within the intended design. Reward narrativist decisions with the power to address the theme, gamist decisions with the power to overcome challenges, simulationist decisions with the power to move into new areas. So you can use the concepts as intellectual measuring sticks from a reader's perspective (as well as practical measuring sticks from a playtest observer's perspective), by looking at what the game seems to promote.

Whether more practical advice on design applications can be done, I'm not yet sure; but this itself can be quite helpful, once you get the hang of it.

--M. J. Young
Logged

Emmett
Member

Posts: 82


WWW
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2003, 09:19:12 PM »

The GNS discussion of if it exists or not goes two ways as far as I see. One is pragmatic and the other is philisophical. If you are a pragmatic person, It doesn't exist. If you are a philisophical person it does. GNS is a philosophy, not an object.

For instance I can argue that there is no such thing as a mammal. "Hogwash" you say and show me a cat. I say "that's not a mammal it's a cat, show me a mammal in it's pure form". Which is silly really because everybody knows that there is no such thing as a "Mammal" proper. There are things that are mammals but nothing that is a mammal.

This brings me to one of the sayings that I live by. There is an exception for everything. If you tried to find an exception proof idea, you would fail (of course there may be an exeption to that). With that in mind, it is illogical to state "I don't think this model works because of this exception". However it is logical to state "because of this exeption, this model will work better this way. . . "
Logged

Cowboys never quit!!!
W. Don
Member

Posts: 113


« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2003, 11:46:53 PM »

Hello everyone. Sound the klaxons, newbie struggling with a contribution here. ;)

Right now I'm trying to build my own game, in the process of which I'm using the GNS model to: 1. Identify the particular prefences of the group I am to play it with; 2. Focus the mechanics side of my game to address those preferences.

Quote
The GNS discussion of if it exists or not goes two ways as far as I see. One is pragmatic and the other is philisophical. If you are a pragmatic person, It doesn't exist.


I want a good game, plain and simple. One that will focus on whatever game aspects myself and my playing group are interested in. In this way, for me, GNS becomes a tool to be used rather than a philosophy to think about. It's something that I've begun to use for wholly pragmatic purposes. It wouldn't be much help to me otherwise.

So, I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with Emmet here. The model does exist for the pragmatist. And I'm glad it does, because I'm gaining a good deal of headway baking my own game with the model in mind.

To be more specific: I've talked things over with my playing group and we've identified each one's prevalent mode of play according to the model. We've also decided on which emphasis (G, N, or S) our little game will have. We've decided that our game should facilitate Narrativist play first, with some Simulationist mechanics to aid our grasp of characters and the setting as a whole. Without the model, we wouldn't be able to really figure out what kind of rules we'd prefer to drop, and which kinds we'd prefer to keep.

While the model can be taken by different people in different ways (and even ignored completely), by experience -- and I'm going through it now -- the model can inform design decisions with a usable taxonomy of player goals (ie: "What do I want out of a game?"), rule types (ie: "Does this mechanic facilitate the kind of play I want?"), and so on. I don't think the model was proposed for it to remain on the theoretical/philosophical level. It's a tool, and proof of a tool's value is in it's use. And, thus far, the tool has been good for me.
Logged
Paganini
Member

Posts: 1049


WWW
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2003, 06:17:52 AM »

Quote from: WDFlores
Right now I'm trying to build my own game, in the process of which I'm using the GNS model to: 1. Identify the particular prefences of the group I am to play it with; 2. Focus the mechanics side of my game to address those preferences.


Yeah. What he said. I've been getting the whole "GNS not useful for design!" thing for ages (not here, in other places). It is useful. WDFlores has nailed it.
Logged

Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2003, 07:04:29 AM »

Quote from: Emmett
The GNS discussion of if it exists or not goes two ways as far as I see. One is pragmatic and the other is philisophical. If you are a pragmatic person, It doesn't exist. If you are a philisophical person it does. GNS is a philosophy, not an object.


Heh. Do you have any inkling how ironic that is? As one of the main promoters of GNS theory here, I have recently been accused of being too pragmatic, and not philosophical enough.

LOL. :-) I'm really amused for some reason. I also get accused by my liberal friends of being too conservative, and too liberal by my conservative friends. Hm.

RPGs themselves are ephemeral as acts of play. What would it take as a demonstration to show you the practicality of GNS usage in improving actual play? Would it suffice if I showed how I've improved my own designs using the theory? Would a description of how I use it to deliver better play to my players help? What makes a comment about RPGs pragmatic to you?

Quote
For instance I can argue that there is no such thing as a mammal. "Hogwash" you say and show me a cat. I say "that's not a mammal it's a cat, show me a mammal in it's pure form". Which is silly really because everybody knows that there is no such thing as a "Mammal" proper. There are things that are mammals but nothing that is a mammal.
And then I say, but that's not a cat, it's a Persian. There are no such things as Cats, only breeds of Cats. And then you note that there are no such things as Persians, just long haired Persians, and Short Haired Persians, etc.

Is there no use to taxonomy at all?

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Wormwood
Member

Posts: 236


WWW
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2003, 09:01:12 AM »

Ron,

I'd say that the general theory is certainly an aid to design, if only because it causes designers to overtly consider goals of play, rather than goals in the game text itself. GNS also breaks the second barrier, to some extent, by not only suggesting that goals in terms of game-play are important, but providing a simple list of one's to start with. On the other hand, GNS is rarely of much direct use to me, simply because the way I design games, there is very little room for incoherence to slip in. To me, GNS independantly demonstrates several key concepts which are essential to good game design. My only real worry is that the theory will ultimately limit creativity, by telling designers that such and such a game cannot be designed, and causing a self-fufilling prophecy. Of course there are always some people who like to try the "impossible".

   -Mendel S.
Logged
jdagna
Member

Posts: 563


WWW
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2003, 11:08:14 AM »

A lot of people seem to want a game design instruction book - something more like the d20 System Guide and SRD.  It would tell them that step 1 is to pick some attributes and step 2 is to name some classes and so on.  There's a question at least once a week on RPG.net from someone who's basically looking for such a procedural guide to writing RPGs.

Obviously, GNS provides nothing of the sort. (Thank God)

That said, I've come to two conclusions about using GNS for design:

1) It's best-suited to trouble-shooting.  
Are spiritual attributes really a flaw in TROS' Sim design, or are they an indication that the Sim elements really support a Narrativist core?  Without GNS, there isn't even any reliable language to address that question and if you can't really talk about it, finding and solving the problem becomes more difficult and error-prone.

2) You have to have made a system first.
I really think that you have to get your first game "out of your system" before you can step back and look at design with the impartiality and experience gained by having done a system already.  Until you've done some design, with or without GNS, the nuances and application don't really become apparent.
Logged

Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
http://www.paxdraconis.com
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!